3 Key Nutrients from Foods for Your Healthy Bones

Body & Mind Aged Care

We take care of our skin, our hair, our looks - but are we forgetting our bones? What can we eat for healthy bones?


Do we often ignore our bone health?

Lisa was particularly worried about this, after hearing from other mums about possible bone calcium loss after pregnancy.

It is indeed true that we need to keep our bone health in mind when planning a healthy diet, but what are the key nutrients that we need to take note of?

1. Calcium

Calcium is a major building block for our skeleton

Calcium is a major building block for our skeleton bones. On average, our human body consists of 1kg of calcium. And 99% of the calcium reside in our bones.

Our bones act as a reservoir for maintaining the calcium levels in our blood, which is essential for healthy nerve and muscle functions.

Calcium is a key nutrient for people of all age groups, but the amount needed varies at different stages of our life. Calcium requirements and demands are particularly high during the rapid period of growth in teenagers.

Dairy foods are the most readily available sources of calcium

Dairy foods are the most readily sources of calcium available in diets, and they also contain other important nutrients for growth.

Some of the main calcium-rich dairy foods include milk, yogurt and cheese. While other additional food sources of calcium are certain green vegetables, whole canned fish with soft edible bones such as sardines or pilchards, nuts, and tofu set with calcium.

Take a look at the top foods rich in calcium below!

Broccoli is a good source of protein

Foods rich in Calcium 

Food Serving SizeCalcium content
1.Milk200 mL240 mg
2.Yogurt, natural150 g207 mg
3.Cheese, hard30 g240 mg
4.Broccoli (raw)120 g112 mg
5.Figs, dried60 g96 mg
6.Almonds30 g75 mg
7.Tofu, calcium-set120 g126 mg

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D can be gotten from outdoor sun exposure

Vitamin D plays 2 key roles in the development and maintenance of healthy bones - (1) assisting in calcium absorption from food in the intestines, and (2) ensures smooth renewal and mineralisation of our bones.

Vitamin D is made in our skin when we are exposed to UV-B rays in the sunlight.

However, due to our increasingly indoor lifestyle, low levels of vitamin D have become a worldwide problem, and this can jeopardize our bone and muscle health.

Very few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D. As a result, in some countries certain food and drinks such as margarine, breakfast cereals and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D.

How much sun exposure do you need?

Generally, you should try to get 10–20 minutes of sun exposure to your bare skin

Sunlight is not always a reliable source of vitamin D. The season and location latitude, use of sunscreen, city smog, skin pigmentation, and a person's age are just some of the factors that can affect how much vitamin D our skin can produce through sunlight.

Generally, you should try to get 10-20 minutes of sun exposure to your bare skin (face, hands and arms) outside of the peak sunlight hours (best before 10 AM and after 2 PM) daily - without sunscreen - but take care not to get sun-burned!

Here's a list of foods rich in Vitamin D:

Tuna is a good source for vitamin D

Foods rich in Vitamin D

FoodVitamin D content*
Wild salmon600-1000 IU
Farmed salmon100-250 IU
Sardines, canned300-600 IU
Tuna, canned236 IU
Shiitake mushrooms, fresh100 IU
Shiitake mushrooms, sun-dried1600 IU
Egg yolk20 IU per yolk
*per 100g unless otherwise stated, IU: International Unit 

3. Protein

Protein provides the body with a source of essential amino acids necessary for health

Protein provides the body with a source of essential amino acids necessary for health. Low protein intake is detrimental both for the building of peak bone mass during childhood and adolescence (affecting skeletal growth) and for the preservation of bone mass with aging. 

Protein-rich foods include dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, lentils, beans and nuts. 

The acid-load claim

Many people have been scared by claims that a high protein intake, including drinking milk, may cause increased calcium loss

Many people have be scared by the claims that a high protein intake, including drinking milk, may cause increased calcium loss via the kidneys and is therefore bad for bone health.

However, this claim has been disproved in many studies. Both plant and animal sources of protein promote strong bones and muscles. Milk and dairy products, as part of a balanced diet, are excellent sources of calcium, protein and other nutrients.

So, are you incorporating these nutritious foods into your diet? Or do you have any information on foods with nutrients and/or micronutrients that can help in maintaining good bone health? Come share with me in the comments below!

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